Merkel won't face vote challenge from Gabriel

Sigmar Gabriel, 57, who currently serves as vice chancellor and economy minister in Merkel's government, revealed the decision in media interviews, saying his chances of victory would be dismal.

Merkel won't face vote challenge from Gabriel

World Bulletin / News Desk

The head of Germany's Social Democrats on Tuesday abandoned an expected bid to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in September's general election, nominating former European Parliament speaker Martin Schulz instead.

Speaking ahead of a party meeting in Berlin to news weekly Stern, Gabriel proposed Schulz, speaker in the Brussels parliament until last week, as a candidate.

Although Merkel's conservative bloc enjoys a double-digit lead over the Social Democrats, Schulz -- who must still confirm he is willing to run -- was widely seen as a more promising contender than Gabriel.

"If I were to run, I would fail, and the SPD with me," Gabriel said.

Asked by the Die Zeit newspaper whether he was stepping aside because of a poll showing that the party rank-and-file overwhelmingly believed Schulz would have a better chance in the general election, Gabriel said: "Yes. It is my responsibility as (party) chairman."

Gabriel is part of Merkel's loveless "grand coalition" government, as well as chairman of the SPD, which, like many of its European sister parties, is riven by disputes between its leftist and centrist wings.

Polls show Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats as the clear frontrunners over the SPD ahead of the September 24 poll, despite unease over her liberal asylum policy.

Schulz, who has spent most of his political career in Brussels, declared late last year that he wanted to turn his back on EU politics to focus on his home country but did not specify his ambitions.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 24 Ocak 2017, 22:11
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